Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Message For A Gay Orthodox Jew

Chana writes about a gay Orthodox YU student with a blog.

Here is my message for him and anyone else in a similar position:
Just read about you on Chana's blog. My heart goes out to people like you who suffer unnecessarily. I grew up Orthodox and it is my honest belief that it is 100% untrue. There is no God and he did not write or dictate or inspire the Torah. The words of Leviticus were written by mere mortals a couple thousand years ago and should no more keep you from finding and experiencing love (and/or sex) than the Book of Mormon should.

I've been around Orthodoxy and Orthodox Jews long enough to know I'm never going to convince someone who doesn't want to be convinced (unless they're unusually intellectually honest AND curious) but I really, truly believe that the case is a slam dunk if you are willing to consider it.

There's just no good reason for you to live a life of suffering and deprivation. I hope you realize that sooner rather than later.

Feel free to email me, and good luck.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Life's Origin -- A New Hypothesis

The picture painted by Russell and Martin is striking indeed. The last common ancestor of all life was not a free-living cell at all, but a porous rock riddled with bubbly iron-sulphur membranes that catalysed primordial biochemical reactions. Powered by hydrogen and proton gradients, this natural flow reactor filled up with organic chemicals, giving rise to proto-life that eventually broke out as the first living cells - not once but twice, giving rise to the bacteria and the archaea.

Many details have yet to be filled in, and it may never be possible to prove beyond any doubt that life evolved by this mechanism. The evidence, however, is growing. This scenario matches the known properties of all life on Earth, is energetically plausible - and returns Mitchell's great theory to its rightful place at the very centre of biology.

See also Ten Steps To The First Cells.

Friday, October 09, 2009

WTF: Obama Wins The Nobel Peace Prize?

I thought it was an article from the Onion at first. And then... "What?!"
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it gave the prize to Obama for his "efforts to strengthen international diplomacy," his "vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons" and for inspiring hope and creating "a new climate in international politics."

Emphasizing diplomacy ahead of force is a big improvement, but at this point it's mostly just rhetoric. He's only just started to accomplish something in Iran with diplomacy. Elsewhere, we're still fighting TWO wars and he's considering escalating one of them. He's effectively covered up and excused much of the previous administrations' torture and gross human rights violations and Guantanamo Bay remains open and running. He increased the size of the "defense" budget. He has spoken about ridding the world of nuclear weapons but not indicated how that could happen nor done anything about it. He has made no appreciable progress in Israel and Palestine.

Obama does not deserve this award. I hope that knowing he doesn't deserve it makes him feel obligated to earn it retroactively.